4 Myths About Time and Why Leaders Believe Them

Our Blog

Ancient Sundial

“A man who dares to waste one hour of time has not discovered the value of life.” – Charles Darwin 

Time. It’s a concept that humans have spent millennia trying to understand and unbox. Everyone from scientists to philosophers to poets has been fascinated by it. As expectations continue to rise for those in the modern working world, time is only becoming more precarious, for those in leadership roles in particular. Take a look at these 4 myths about time and how they could be holding you and those around you back.

Myth 1: The more you work, the more successful you’ll be. It seems like a logical thought process – if you spend more time working, you’ll get more done and ultimately be more successful. If you pass up vacation time, not only will you have spent more time on a project and most likely gotten further with it, it shows you’re committed to your work. But it doesn’t work like that.

Reality: Burnout is a real problem, especially in Western culture. People feel that they simply can’t take time away to unwind. But in reality, unplugging and getting away can help prevent burnout and increase productivity. In fact, research shows that productivity actually decreases after a certain point.

Myth 2: There’s never enough time to get it all done. While we all have the same number of hours in each day, it can often feel as though you have less than those around you. You may find yourself thinking, “How does he do ABC and still have time for XYZ?” or “How does she manage to sleep with all that she has going on?”

Reality: Everyone has the same amount of time to be successful. The key is to have time work with you, not against you. Techniques like budgeting and time-blocking can make it seem like you have more time. Just like with money, when we budget our time, we know exactly where each hour and minute goes and in the end, we feel like we have a better grasp on it.

Myth 3: Naps are a sign of weakness. While this isn’t true worldwide, the US in particular views napping as irresponsible and even lazy. Even though the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has deemed insufficient sleep a public health problem, many think, “Why nap when you could be working?”

Reality: Naps can in fact be a weapon of efficiency, a legitimate way for leaders to unwind, refresh, and reset. In fact, when I asked a handful of my contacts what they thought, they were in agreement (mostly) that naps can be an effective way for leaders to hit the reset button and come back with more enthusiasm and fresh ideas. 

Myth 4: Technology can help us manage time better. Some people think that if you have the right project management tool or enough reminders on your calendar, you’ll increase efficiency and be a better leader. But it really depends.

Reality: While this statement isn’t flat out wrong, it can be categorized as a myth if technology isn’t used in the right way. If you’re spending several hours a day setting up and inputting updates into apps, you’re wasting time that could be used on the task at hand. In reality, whatever technology you use to track and manage time is really just another tool – and tools for time aren’t new. If all you had was a wristwatch, could you still be an effective leader? While technology can be helpful in time management, it can also be a hinderance. At the end of the day, the tech isn’t what’s making you more productive. You are.

As business leaders, it’s our responsibility to debunk myths like these not only for the sake of our own productivity, but also to ensure that we’re setting the right examples for our employees and those around us. After all, we all have the same number of hours in a day – let’s use them. For other tips like these and thoughts on leadership, check out the DES Connection Room.